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California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

College of Architecture & Environmental Design 1
Prof. Sharad Atre’
FIFTH YEAR . ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN & THESIS _______________________________________

Architecture informed by its Context is the emphasis of this

studio and is influenced by the following interrelated
statements. Within its overall framework students may find a
variety of areas to suit personal interest and may select to
focus on a particular urban topic and a particular building
typology and may address contextual issues as related to
their projects.

Architecture / Meaningful Places & Spaces

Architecture in context is neither a cursory attention nor a

radical innovation, it is a strong and eloquent visual
relationship to the surrounding. Individual building is always
seen first as a part of the whole.

Creating Places and Spaces that enrich the lives of the

people who use them is the foundation of Architects work.
Every building can and should engage in a dialog with the
history, beliefs and needs of a particular place and time.

Identification of place lies as a generative core of

architecture. Place is to architecture as meaning is to
language. Recognition, memory, choice, sharing with others,
the acquisition of significance; all these contribute to the
process of architecture.
Excerpts from Analysing Architecture, Simon Unwin.

Architecture & Urban Context

Architecture is the physical language of city-and community-

building. The city is a living organism- with a unique culture
and a past called a “contextual history” and a future in which
new buildings act as the threads that weave the cities living
traditions into new and whole fabric. Architecture projects
need to be perceived as part of implementing an urban
design project which entails gathering insights into urban
fabric and how people use urban spaces.
The role of a Designer is to work on many scales,
thoughtfully designing public places and spaces, to build on
the unique local character and the best qualities of the forms
inherent in that geographic region.
Excerpts from Urban Design, UD Associates.

However reluctantly, it must be admitted that many large
American cities are somewhat hostile to humanity. Due
to a seeming revival of interest in the ‘quality of living’
these cities are becoming better places to live in and
spend time. We continue to look towards the ‘world
cities’ and their architecture for good examples, souvenir
cities and buildings of royalty and gracious places –
urban plazas, squares and arcades , water-fountains,
glimpses of history preserved, cafes open to
promenades and urban parks, visual surprises and
contrived delights. Our cities should have these
pedestrian urban spaces where the quality of life in a
particular city clearly perceives the tangible and
intangible elements – the power of anticipation and
surprise, the mystery, the pull of waterfront, the
excitement of arcades, the appeal of people-watching in 2
plazas, the surfaces and objects of the city.
Excerpts from Urban Spaces, David Specter
Vision & Reality

Architecture as Process Architects continue to be the catalyst in materializing building

projects and the practice of architecture continues to be a
Architecture is a synthetic phenomenon encompassing teamwork of professionals and consultants in fields ranging
all fields of human activity. It is, of course, a from planning, urban design, landscape architecture,
multidimensional, comprehensive discipline, an art and engineering, building science, financing, law, real estate
a profession, and it is a state of mind. To be an developers. Today, the profession is very diversified and
imaginative and creative architect, therefore, you have to includes architectural services that are comprehensive and
perform at many levels, some purely artistic and that expand beyond the traditional services offered by
intellectual, others scientific – technology, structure, architects. These include services such as multi disciplinary
materials, systems – and also professional – process, teamwork, collaborative developments, turn-key projects,
ethics, business. The very nature of the art of partnership, venturing and design-build.,
architecture is to serve humanity, it is a utilitarian art,
even in its most spiritual form. The National Council of Architectural Registration Board
Excerpt / Alvar Alto (NCARB) has endorsed the concept of integrating Design
and Practice as Comprehensive Architectural Service
Architecturally speaking, our physical environment is and has recommended that design projects in a an
being increasingly designed without substantial content. academic studio address not only the traditional content of
The ancient notion of the unity of idea, unity of approach formal, theoretic and technical concerns but also address
and unity of faith has ceased to be our premise for our issues, with more detail, in areas such as Practice, Design
thoughts and actions. The values of the truth, the good Development, Materials & Building Process, Construction
and the beautiful are ignored. Without this how can one Technology, Sustainability, and other related aspects in the
ever create lasting quality of architecture, since building industry.
architecture is neither purely a physical, a purely
intellectual, nor a purely psychic phenomenon but a This Studio views architectural design as a form of creative
comprehensive manifestation of all three, capable of and comprehensive investigation demonstrated through a
influencing the lives of individuals and communities. Not rigorous process and production of architectural graphic
often in an architectural creation are all these aspects documentation - informed by contextual, formal, cultural,
understood and translated into a design concept and the theoretical, technological, practical and historical issues and
built -form conceived accordingly. is heavily underscored by the various phases of architectural
Excerpt / Balkrishna Doshi
process. This pedagogical approach is the thrust of this

The studio also addresses the needs of the profession by

acknowledging the dual role of architects as ‘designers’ and
‘professional practitioners’ involved in creation and execution
of buildings in various settings. It recognizes that in reality
there is really no separation of these two activities and they
are integrated at all times.
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Thesis / Project : Scope & Scale Studio Activities

Arch 492 / Fall

Design Process - Self-disciplined and rigorous
approach that encompasses a wide spectrum of creative Thesis
activities emphasizing architectural design.
Thesis study, conducted as a seminar + activity, will be the
Comprehensive Design, - Scope and Scale of projects background and the foundation of design project. A study of
varies depending upon the complexity; buildings with ideological, theoretical and technical basis will be used to
any typology preferably in an urban context, urban formulate design-precepts and will include an expanded
design projects that involve a small section of the city; to narrative on the topic and the subject matter. It will result in a
include planning and urban design study, site-feasibility formal
study, programming, synthesis, design schematics and presentation with a thesis book supported with graphics,
development, material and construction technology. models and other digital media as necessary.
Collaboration – A Collaborative Team Approach; with
planners, urban designers, landscape architects,
structural engineers, building science experts, Design-Project
contractors, developers, etc. as necessary. Discovery, Invention & Integration
Integration of knowledge and critical thinking that has
been acquired cumulatively over previous four years In
Discovery / In Search of Form
subjects such as practice, building science structures, Analysis, Ideas & Concepts
etc. into a holistic design process.
Investigation and analysis of the project topic, background
Intern Program : Students who have prior experience in information, analysis of the city, urban setting, site study and
an architect’s office or have participated in the S.F. program.
Urban program are encouraged to select a topic they Analysis and Exploration of various design concepts, and
are already familiar with. alternatives indicating relationships between architectural
form and program, site, context, and environment. Various
Off Campus Programs : Students studying abroad may applicable case studies of the similar building typology also
select a project in their host country with a unique will be investigated.,
cultural/historic context and bring their insight and The design process will be documented with sketches,
academic experience to this studio. drawings, parti / concept models and will be organized for
presentation at the end of the quarter.

Invention/ Form Defined
Schematic Design & Integration

Synthesize selected, applicable concepts into a preliminary

design – schemes, alternates, etc. - - that will demonstrate
the Architectural Form & Meaning and its relationship to
context, site, program, environment, technology, structure,
light, acoustics, legal constraints, energy conservation,
materials, and other issues relevant to the proposed
building. Also Preliminary study of the construction
technology may be undertaken.
The preliminary design and schematic design development
phase will be supported with drawings, various study models
and will be completed for presentation.

Spring preparation for the design-project and thesis during the
Integration / Form Development Summer.
Tectonics & Graphic Communication
> Collect and review background information for the city,
This quarter students will continue to refine the - site and vicinity where the project is located. Information
building envelope - in detail and look closely into such as the following will be valuable –various scale city
critical aspects such as systems integration, materials maps from the city planning offices, aerial photograph of the
and technology and building assembly. Also an area, drawings of the surrounding buildings, digital photos,
exploration of a specific program-area w.r.t. planning reports.
topics such as material, lighting, acoustics, structure,
interior design, systems, etc. is required. Students are > Compile bibliography and review pertinent books, or
encouraged to study building technology & construction magazines for support information.
related topics such as scheduling, preliminary
specification and cost estimates. > Visit and document the site and the context and visit
Also, students will put together their final graphic projects of similar type, collect information on case
documents resulting in a presentation that will consist of studies that are relevant to the selected topic.
a a revised thesis book, design-book, presentation
drawings, models, perspectives, 3D modeling and > Consult the client and seek out a practicing architect as
animation and other pertinent media graphics. The a consultants who is willing to assist you throughout the year
exhibition of the design work and the entire process will with the project during its development.
take place at the end of the year. The organized process
documentation and presentation will demonstrates how 7
ideological and aesthetic concepts have evolved into a Expectations
refined design solution.
Most graduating students enter architectural firms as
5 interns and have plans to become Professional Architects.
Therefore, it is assumed that students will posses the
Procedure necessary qualities that exhibit willingness to take on
professional responsibilities, express initiative, have self
Selection of Topic motivation, professional standard and are willing to work
Prior to the beginning of Fall quarter, students enrolled in towards better solutions.
this studio are required to have selection made for the
thesis topic and the project, building typology, location, With this in mind, this studio is organized to provide a
possible site alternatives, and a possible client and have stimulating place - a place with creative environment, a
it approved by the studio instructor. Please, contact the nurturing place for exploration, a place with friendly
instructor to discuss proposals, approval of the project or atmosphere and high energy - where one can self-direct his
if you have any questions during Spring quarter. or her work and carry it to excellence.

Bibliography, recommended reading list and other

resources should be determined by each student prior
to the beginning of the project.

Students will be required to conduct field trips to the

project sites, project- consultants, mentor architects and
to various case-study projects as necessary throughout
the year.


Students who are further along in their preplanning

during Summer will find themselves much better off in
starting the thesis and project in Fall. Therefore,
students are recommended to conduct significant